The UK could ratify the European Unified Patent Court agreement as early as the end of March and the process is likely to face minimal opposition in committee, solicitors have predicted.
The government previously signed the protocol on privileges and immunities last year, which is a document necessary for the UPC and its judges to carry out activities.
The protocol was published on 20 January and sits for 21 days to allow for any opposition. The 21-day deadline has now passed, meaning a statutory instrument on implementing the procedure, which is due to be published shortly, will need to be debated in both houses of parliament.
Ordinarily the process would take several weeks but solicitors told the Gazette the plans are unlikely to face opposition and the committee will likely be ‘made up of those in favour of the proposals’.
However, one lawyer told the Gazette the process could still not be approved until after Easter, which would still keep it in line with the proposed timeframe of having an operational court by the end of the year.
An early day motion put forward by the UK Independence Party’s sole MP Douglas Carswell urging the UK not to ratify the agreement has failed to garner any support.
Although the government describes the UPC as an ‘international court set up by an international’ agreement, it will adhere to EU law and in some cases will be ultimately answerable to the Court of Justice of the EU. One division of the court is planned for Aldgate Tower on the edge of the City.
The Intellectual Property Office quashed reports the plans will be ratified as early as this week. A spokesman said the UK will be in a position to ratify once remaining legislative steps are complete.